August 22, 2007 12:52:45pm
Re: close encounters
As others posted, the show you refer to is 1/22/78. My first Dead show was 1/13/78, nine days earlier.
I saw the show in a local movie theater (Arlington). Although you can't hear it in many spots on the circulating board, Jerry was noodling with the Twlight Zone theme at that show, mostly between songs. You can hear strong hints of it in the Space jam of that show. The band played around with that theme a little until the full-blown version on 1/22.
I post over at Deadhook, too, and we have an archive of show reviews. I wrote the following one for 1/13/78.
1/13/78, Arlington Theater, Santa Barbara, CA
Pacific Alliance Benefit -- “Stop Nuclear Power”
Mississippi 1/2 Step
All Over Now
Beat It On Down the Line
Friend of the Devil
Dancin’ In the Streets>
Around & Around
E: Sugar Magnolia
In late 1977, one of my sisters asked me if I wanted to go to a Grateful Dead concert. She was going to the show with her boyfriend and offered to pick up a pair of tickets for me. I jumped at the chance, having heard from friends that Grateful Dead shows were amazing musical events. I was familiar with the band’s music from albums like Europe ‘72 and Live Dead but wasn’t exactly a big fan. I was intrigued by the Grateful Dead mystique, though. The fans seemed to share in something special that I didn’t quite understand.
The concert was held at a local theater, an old, historic place called the Arlington. I have seen many shows there -- symphonies, ballets, numerous concerts and countless weekend movie matinees. The interior of the Arlington is pretty special. Along both sides and rear of the theater are ornamental “houses” and “shops” with patios, doors, windows and balconies. At first glance the storefronts and cottages may seem fake, but there are actual rooms and passages behind the doors, something my friends and I had discovered while sneaking into weekend movies. The ceiling of the Arlington is covered with tiny lights that simulate stars, completing the ambiance of an outdoor concert in the middle of some small town.
I attended 1/13/78 with my sister, her boyfriend and a good friend of mine. The day of the show happened to fall on a Friday the 13th, a fact not lost on the crowd. It was a benefit concert to stop nuclear power, which was another interesting twist. Hopes ran high for something special that night. Would we get a Dark Star? Several people in attendance thought it was a strong possibility. (I later learned to take most Grateful Dead rumors with a grain of salt.)
Well, we didn’t get a Dark Star that night but what we got was pretty damn good. In my opinion, this show ranks as one of the Dead’s most underrated performances. You don’t see 1/13/78 get mentioned very often, but when you do it’s rave reviews. The first set kicked off with a strong Mississippi 1/2 Step. The show was right after Jerry recovered from a case of laryngitis, and his voice was still a bit scratchy. I remember thoroughly enjoying the first set. I knew several of the songs, but not all.
Set break was part of my big introduction to Deadhead culture. People were huddled in groups on the lobby floor, chatting, laughing, smoking and ingesting various party favors. I met some great people who burned a few joints with my friend and me. By the time we got back to our seats for the second set, our eyes were crimson slits.
The second set kicked off with Bertha, a song I already knew and loved. The real meat of the show came a few songs later when the band launched into an epic version of Dancin’. This was a serious jam, with Phil and Jerry leading the way. It was this part of the show where I “got it.” At that point my fate was sealed, and I’ve been a Deadhead ever since. Jerry’s voice began to crack during Wharf Rat -- a sign that he had not fully recovered from the laryngitis -- so Bob took over and finished the show with Truckin’>Around & Around. Then we got a rare Sugar Magnolia encore.
One thing I distinctly remember from 1/13/78 was Jerry noodling with the Close Encounters riff. He toyed with it while tuning between songs and also a little bit during the Dancin’ jam. I found this amusing, because I had seen the Close Encounters movie recently in the exact same theater. Several shows during that January ‘78 West Coast tour have little hints of the Close Encounters theme. The full-blown Close Encounters jam came on 1/22/78 in Oregon, nine days after the show I saw.
The crowd was buzzing with excitement and approval as the show let out. My friend and I were already planning to hit another Dead show as soon as possible. Little did we know, the band would return to our small town for an outdoor concert just five months later. Those were the days!